INSTRUMENTAL LESSONS AT THE BELVEDERE PREPARATORY SCHOOL – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
We know that many parents are keen to help their children on their musical journeys and so we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and topics which we hope you will find helpful. If your query is not addressed here, please feel free to make direct contact with the Director or Music, Miss N Kayayan. This list will be updated on a rolling basis, so please do visit our website regularly for further information. Tuition is available on the following instruments: piano; voice; violin; cello; acoustic guitar; electric guitar; flute; clarinet and saxophone.
Q: My child has just taken up an instrument. How much practice should they do at home?
This will vary depending on the child and the instrument. Typically, within the first two terms of learning an instrument, 15-20 minutes daily practice is advisable in order to make adequate progress. Practice time should then steadily increase as a child becomes more competent. Always seek advice on this from your child’s instrumental teacher and the Director of Music if you are not sure. Instrumental teachers will often give guidance as to practice time and practice strategies in the child’s practice notebook.
Q: Can my child take up more than one instrument at a time?
This is certainly possible, though we would advise children to have lessons on just the one instrument at least for the first one to two years of learning. If after this time, they are progressing well and are showing an aptitude for music, then we will consider the possibility of them learning a second instrument or voice if this is in the best interests of the child. It is advisable to discuss this with the Director Music, Miss Kayayan and the instrumental teacher, who will be happy to advise in the first instance.
Q: How will I know when my child’s lessons take place?
Your child is issued with a practice notebook when they commence their lessons at the start of every academic year. Teachers will always write the date and time of your child’s lesson in this book.
Q: How can I contact my child’s instrumental teacher?
When you register your child for instrumental lessons and have returned the contract, your child’s instrumental teacher will make contact with you via the e-mail address you provide on the return slip. Subsequent communication can therefore be made by e-mail.
Q: My child has just changed instrumental teacher and was expecting to take an exam this term. Now they have changed teacher, we have been told that exam preparation needs to be put on hold. Why might this be?
It is very common that when a child changes teacher there is remedial work which needs to take place. Often, technique,posture, embouchure, hand positions etc. need changing and this can take time. It is well worth being patient and compliant with your child and their instrumental teacher as these areas are fundamental to a child’s musical development and it will pay dividends in the long run to work on these areas before preparing for an exam. It is not advisable to take grade after grade. There is usually a need to ‘up-skill’ in between grades and explore new repertoire so that a child can gain confidence with the technical requirements of the next level before beginning to work on exam material. As ever, guidance on ABRSM exam preparation is readily available from the Director of Music (who is also an experienced examiner for ABRSM).
Q: My child would like to take up an instrument but we do not want to make an expensive purchase before we know our child is suited to the instrument. What should we do?
Instruments can be hired for shorter periods of time and this can be more cost effective if you are waiting to see how suited your child is to an instrument before purchasing something. Your child’s instrumental teacher will always be able to advise on the make, model and costs of suitable instruments. Richard Behrend, the instrument supplier based on Greenbank Road, L18, has a hire scheme in place which is very reliable and trustworthy. Please see the following link: http://www.richardbehrend.co.uk/rental-scheme
Q: We no longer wish for our child to have instrumental lessons, though there are still several weeks left of this term to go. We have not yet paid the instrumental teacher. What should we do?
Instrumental lessons are paid a term in advance directly to the instrumental teacher, but payments are closely monitored by the school and detailed records of lessons and payments are kept in a log in the music department. You will have signed a contract which states clearly that lessons are paid a term in advance and that a half terms notice must be given if you wish for lessons not to be continued into the subsequent term. If you have not yet made payment for your child’s instrumental lessons and part of the term has passed, then payment needs to be made promptly whether or not your child is continuing. Your child is then entitled to continue with lessons until the end of that term if he/she wishes to.
Q: My child needs new music books. Where can we buy these?
Whilst there are some music shops in the City Centre of Liverpool, they do not always have books in stock which our instrumental teachers might recommend. The quickest and cheapest way to purchase materials is online. Online orders will usually take just a couple of days, whilst it can take up to 2 months if you order books from a music shop in the City Centre! Your instrumental teacher will give further advice, but your first port of call should be www.amazon.co.uk and www.abrsm.org/shop
Q: My child has music books at home that their brother/sister has used in the past. Can the same books be used?
It may well be that books which siblings have used in the past will hold good for your other children and if this is the case, then yes certainly, do recycle! However, every child is different and materials which may have been suited to other children may not be appropriate for others. Your child’s instrumental teacher will always recommend which music books need to be purchased. If in doubt, do e-mail the instrumental teacher for further clarification.
Q: I would like my child to have extra instrumental lessons outside school. Can this be arranged?
It is stated clearly in our terms and conditions and in instrumental teacher contracts that lessons must not be conducted in the teacher’s home or in the home of the child. Lessons take place on the school premises within term time. Over the course of the academic year a Belvedere pupil will have had between 30-35 lessons and we feel that this is more than adequate. The holiday periods provide a chance to refresh and our instrumental teachers will set clear targets in the practice notebook as to what is expected to be achieved over holiday periods. If a pupil has a forthcoming examination or performance and this falls within a holiday period or just afterwards, then please contact Miss Kayayan, the Director of Music who will be able to advise further.
Q: I would like my child to have instrumental lessons with a different teacher outside of school as well as with one of Belvedere’s teachers during school hours. Is this advisable?
At Belvedere, we are very fortunate to have high calibre, professional musicians working within our music department (please see their biographies on the instrumental teaching pages). You can be assured that the tuition your child receives in school is second to none. Our instrumental teachers will ensure that their pupils are well advised and therefore we strongly discourage our pupils to have lessons with different teachers outside of school in addition to the teaching we provide as this can often confuse and give conflicting information.
Q: I would like my child to take an ABRSM grade exam on their instrument. How do I go about arranging this?
You will be notified by your child’s instrumental teacher and Miss Kayayan the Director of Music when your child is ready for an exam. Preparing for a grade exam takes time, commitment and practice. It is counter-productive to take an exam before being ready. Sometimes children want to take an exam because they know a friend is doing so or because they have been having lessons for a certain period of time. Your child’s instrumental teacher and Miss Kayayan are highly experienced in preparing pupils for grade exams and will be able to give you more advice when your child is ready.